Archive | April, 2013

Syria Update, April 25, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

26 Apr

Syria Update, April 25 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Aftermath of a shelling in Qusayr (which killed 10, see below)

President Assad uses his connections to try to convince the US and American media that they are supporting “Islamic terrorists” and the wrong side of the war in Syria. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/25/world/middleeast/syria-campaigns-to-persuade-us-to-change-sides.html?hp&_r=0

PLEASE sign to demand the release of Syria’s nonviolent prisoners (and share)
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2507/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=13220

Strategy by the Syrian regime has shifted to seeking control of the highways. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130425/syria-army-shifts-war-highways

Where does Syria’s Shi`a community stand? Some Shi`i joined the opposition. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/04/201342491851986116.html

Aleppo province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Yesterday (Wednesday) the minaret of the Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo has collapsed because of the violent clashes taking place next to it. This minaret has been in place for almost 1000 years,; it was built at the time of the Seljuk empire in the 11th century.
http://www.arabnews.com/news/449296

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian regime forces captured al-Oteiba to the east of Damascus after five weeks of battle yesterday in a setback to the opposition. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/04/26/Syrian-troops-capture-key-town-near-Damascus.html

Opposition fighters from the town of al-Oteiba (taken over yesterday by regime forces using the airforce, tanks and multiple rocket launchers ) have released this video about the creation of a new battalion, Liwa’ al-Shabab al-Sadiqeen (Battalion of the Honest Men). They state that they have resisted the Assad regime for 40 days without adequate support from others.

Heavy clashes took place in Harasta. Unknown gunmen shot an engineer in the village of Kafrhour.

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Footage of the killed brigadier general of the 38th brigade in Rif Dara`a. He was killed last month on 23/3/2013 after rebels from several factions, including al-Nusra, stormed the 38th battalion. His head is decapitated in the second video.

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Jabat al-Nusra and other opposition battallions targeted an armored vehcilce in Tariq Halab in the city of Hama, burning alive some regular soldiers.

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Three airstrikes were carried out on the city of Homs today. Violent clashes occurred in the city of Homs between regular and opposition forces at the outskirts of the neighborhoods of Wadi al-Seih and Jouret al-Shayah. Regular forces shelled these areas which they have been trying to invade. The Syrian military shelled areas of the town of Sakhna which are currently controlled by the al-Islam battalion.

The Syrian regime forces bombarded the villages of al-Tiba and al-Koum from the air, killing 1 civilian and injuring 12. The Syrian regular forces bombarded the al-Basatin area of Palmyra. At least 4 security forces were killed by an ambush on the Homs-Palmyra road.

Air strikes in Qusayr (see also above) were carried out by the Syrian military. And killed 10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GcTG9TT8lXE

Opposition fighters accuse Hizbullah of widening the war by their attacks in this area. http://www.voanews.com/content/syria-opposition-accuses-hezbollah-of-widening-war/1648619.html

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Clashes occurred at the edges of the town of Kamam killing 3 rebel fighters. Both regular and national defence units have been trying to overtake this town. A woman died today in the village of Daba`a from wounds received there in the regime’s aerial bombardment. The Syrian regular forces shelled the towns of al-Dar al-Kabira, Nahlaiya and Kafrnajd. The latter two were shelled by Syrian military at the al-Mastouma encampment near the city of Idlib.

Raqqa province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Opposition forces were hit by the Syrian regime in airstrikes today in Raqqah, Hassakeh, Damascus, Idlib and Dara`a provinces. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/warplanes-hit-rebels-across-syria-watchdog

International:

Hikmat Massarwa, a member of Israel’s Arab minority attended a remand hearing at the Central District Court in Lod, near Tel Aviv, on Thursday.
Israel charged Massarwa this month with security offenses for joining Syria’s rebel forces against President Bashar al-Assad and said that he had associated with radical fighters.

Some members of the U.S. Congress (and Senator John McCain) urged President Barack Obama to take action to “secure” Syria’s chemical weapons after he warned Thursday that strongman Bashar al-Assad likely used them against his own people. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130425/us-lawmakers-demand-action-syria-chemical-weapons

Jordan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zeid al-Hussein sent a letter to the United Nations security council saying that the Syrian refugee influx is a humanitarian crisis and a threat to Jordan’s security and stability. http://www.theprovince.com/news/Jordan+tells+Syrian+refugee+influx+threatening+security/8295950/story.html

This op-ed states that the US is “inching” toward action in Syria. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22303554

Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov slams the “Friends of Syria” and exposes Russia’s differences with Turkey on Syria. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-312876-lavrov-slams-friends-of-syria-lays-bare-differences-with-turkey.html

A Primer on Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Sherifa Zuhur. Director, Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies.
sherifazuhur@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Institute-of-Middle-Eastern-Islamic-and-Strategic-Studies/168189513225439?ref=hl

In August of 2012, U.S. President Obama warned the Syrian government not to use chemical weapons and stated that their use would be unacceptable. He also promised to aid the opposition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bsO3ehh8UEk

The opposition has demanded an inquiry into the current use of chemical weapons (CW) on 3/18/13 in an incident in Khan Assal in Aleppo province. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-syria-crisis-chemicalsbre92j0r4-20130320,0,1185396.story Thus far, the U.S. ambassador has said it is unlikely. But if it occurred, would the U.S. make good on its promise to punish Bashar al-Assad’s government or not? To the first question — have chemical weapons been used?

Syria’s chemical weapons program dates back to 1973 when Syria obtained mustard and sarin from Egypt. It is one of the strongest programs in the Middle East region. Syria’s current chemical weapons development is being supervised by Iranian scientists. Ever since 1989, the focus of the program has been on improving the accuracy and distance of potential strikes via the delivery system. Six years ago, Syria possessed 100 to 200 sarin-filled warheads (in 2008) there may be more today. The country has SCUD missiles and SS-21 missiles, both of which may be fitted to CW warheads.

Between late November and early December of 2012, the U.S. government was provided information indicating that Syria was mixing and moving its CW stores, probably for intended use. Photographs showed soldiers preparing precursor chemicals, and army units loading CW onto military transport. In this same period there were some claims of use of a gas or chemical weapon by those injured in Homs and other areas, and some of the injured were biopsied. The most recent claims of March 18, 2013 involve an attack on Khan al-Assal, an area in Aleppo, where the opposition had captured a police academy, and where the Syrian government troops and air force had been attacking in an effort to recapture. It appears the Syrian air force used a missile which then mistakenly hit Syrian forces in the opposition-held area, killing 16 Syrian troops and 10 opposition fighters. (SOHR 3/18, 3/19) The Syrian government’s claim that it was the opposition which had and used CW follows its pattern of terming the opposition “terrorists,” and also may have been expressed to cover up the mistake made by the Syrian military for firing on its own fighters. The missiles were fired from the Nayrab district. The opposition quickly denied that it has any such weapons; indeed the stockpiles are held by the Syrian government (Youtube and Barnard, NYT 3/19/13) Breathing difficulties, bluish skin and suffocation of some of the 26 victims were reported and a Reuters reporter confirmed seeing these symptoms and smelling chorine in the air.

In December one of the fighting groups of the FSA seized one of Syria’s facilities about 40 miles from Aleppo near the Euphrates river, the SYSSACO plant which manufactures chemicals including chlorine. At the time, al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper sympathetic to the Assad regime claimed that there were 100-kilogram tanks of chlorine at that facility. ( http://digitaljournal.com/article/338771 ) The rebels declared the area a closed zone. It seems highly unlikely that the 3/18 bombing could have come from these stocks, or direction.

Events are moving swiftly. Here the Mujahidin Shura Council seizes poison gas (type unidentified) from the Khan Toman military warehouse. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnANeCjPCuc&feature=youtu.be
But we should remember that the filled warheads and missiles are in the hands of the Syrian government, its researchers and military.

Previous Use of an CW Agent

The Syrian military attacked the city of Homs (which has been besieged for months) on December 23rd. Victims of attacks on that day suffered from nervous system, respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms after inhaling a gas on that day. Medical personnel and activists reported the incident, and the U.S. State Department engaged in an investagion from the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul but concluded CW had not been used. Some of the victims of this attack continued to suffer after fleeing as refugees and I was told that some biopsied tissue was returned to the U.S. for evaluation but have not seen any conclusions.

Other Possibilities.

Tear gas is used by the Syrian military (as by other police and militaries) but it is not considered CW, as it is non-lethal. Other CW elements like chlorine, phosgene and mustard gas have been used since World War One in warfare, and are possessed by the Syrian government Chlorine is a powerful agent which burns the throat, nose, eyes and lungs and may kill via asphyxiation. It is water-soluble and masks or the use of a wet cloth have been used to protect against the gas. Phosgene is even deadlier than chlorine, and as a war gas is often mixed with chlorine.

Syria has not signed, nor acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Its primary rationale for not renouncing chemical weapons is that Israel poses a threat to Syrian security. Jane’s Defense has reported on Syria’s upgrading of its CW since 2005, a process reliant on Iranian assistance.

There is no strong evidence that Iraq’s chemical weapons were moved to Syria (although there is no proof they were not, one may surmise that Syria’s CW program is robust on its own).

Syria obtained the design for the Soviet Scud warhead using VX back in the 1970s. It appears that Syria has the capabilities to produce CW agents on its own; it has procued nonpersistent nerve gas since 1984. There is confirmation of its possession of sarin since 1986. Syria’s CW program began with CERS, its Scientific Study and Research Center in Damascus and later, plants in al-Safira, Hama and Homs were established.

By 1987, Syria had sarin-filled warheads on Scud missiles and since then its focus is to increase range and effectiveness of strike capability. After 1997, Syria obtained warhead that could be fitted with bomblet-filled cluster heads and Syria worked to develop V-agents. There appear to be stockpiles of mustard and sarin and the country may have between 100 and 200 Scuds fitted with sarin warheads. As well as sarin and mustard to use in artillery shells or other air-dropped forms. Syria recently conducted a missile test (in August of 2012); Iranians were reported to be present for the tests. Iran and Syria had signed a defense cooperation agreement in June of 2006.

In the summer and fall of 2012, there were 2 warnings that chemical weapons stockpiles were being moved within the country and one claim (by a U.S. official) that Syria has begun mixing sarin – the components are to be stored separately.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/12/syria-chemical-weapons-3/

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/how-would-assad-use-chemical-weapons

These claims prompted warnings from the United States, France and other nations including China. Russia and Syria denied that Syria would use its chemical arsenal.

Syria’s Biological Weapons Program

Syria is a signatory to the Biological Toxic Weapons Convention, but has not ratified that Convention. Just as its CW program is very advanced, its biological weapons program is also quite robust.

Israeli and German sources state that Syria has botulinum toxin, ricin and Bacillus anthracis, and some other sources state that Syria also has plague, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, camelpox and tularemia. Syria then, possesses A, B, and C pathogens and toxins. Syria has advanced pharmaceutical capabilities and thus could have (and according to some accounts has) obtained dual use equipment needed for pharmaceutical and defense research and development. It has research centers in Damascus and Aleppo. Certain U.S. sources are certain that Syria can produce anthrax and botulism, but what was not known is whether it has a formal program to develop delivery systems for these weapons. A 2004 Swedish Defense Agency report said there was no evidence of a defensive or offensive biological weapons program in Syria. However, the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the CIA, and the DIA have stated opinions to the contrary as have scientists and specialists. Other experts believe that Syria’s CERS (Scientific Studies and Research Center) has the capabilities and expertise to work on these systems, probably involving the use of drones and UAVs, or adapting warheads and cluster munitions to deliver the biological agents.(Cordesman, 2008) Russian advisors are said to be working with the biological warfare program. An American expert contends that there was a transfer from the Iraqi biological warfare (defensive and offensive programs), namely the camelpox virus.

Cordesman claimed that there were some indications that biological variations on ZAB-incendiary bombs and PTAB 500 cluster bombs and Scud warheads were being tested. Syria is technologically capable of designing adapted delivery systems which would have “the effectiveness of small theater nuclear weapons.” However he also noted that the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) held a far more restrained view of Syria’s capabilities in BW development.

A detailed, but accessible interview with Jill Dekkar is here:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/13108/sec_id/13108

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Syria Update, April 21-22, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

23 Apr

Syria Update, April 21 – 22 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: 566 martyrs 483 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs – most of whom where killed in Jdeidet Al-Fadl (over the last five days), 23 in Aleppo; 21 in Idlib, including 14 in Maghara; 15 in Homs; 12 in Dara`a; 7 in Deir az-Zur; and 5 in Hama.

Saturday’s death toll: 82 killed including 2 women and 8 children:

The interim chief of the National Coalition, Georges Sabra says that Hizbullah’s involvement in Homs (see below) is a declaration of war against the Syrian people.
https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/syria-rebels-warn-hezbollah-fight-role-declaration-of-war

Syrian Army officers create new militias to share in the loot as well as protect the regime. They express distrust of their Sunni rank-and-file. Are we witnessing the end of the Syrian Arab Army?
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/21/us-syria-crisis-paramilitary-insight-idUSBRE93K02R20130421

The clerics of the Greek Orthodox and Assyrian churches in Syria, Bishop Paul Yazigi and Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim were both kidnapped in Aleppo, and their driver killed. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/22/yohanna-ibrahim-paul-yazigi-syria-kidnapped_n_3134606.html

On the Katibat al-Muhajireen, one of the opposition groups in Syria. http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2013/04/19/17678.shtml

Here a soldier who tried to defect has been shot by Assad’s forces. He (looks stunned) and opposition shouts, “Don’t look at your wound, come to us.” and then “Don’t be afraid.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mPCha2uHZqA#!

Syria as “The Dungeons of Heaven” and “Heaven in Doha” https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=507394995988040&set=a.159322220795321.35346.152902998103910&type=1&theater

Refugees and Relief:

The UN World Food Program said the U.S.S. Advantage (an American ship) has carried wheat intended to feed a million Syrian refugees. http://www.examiner.com/article/u-s-ship-brings-wheat-to-starving-syrians

Aleppo province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A chronicle of the destruction of Aleppo: http://alisariram.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/bearing-witness-the-destruction-of-the-old-city-of-aleppo-the-second-oldest-city-in-the-world-part-three/

In the city of Aleppo clashes took place in the Henderat camp.

Clashes are taking place between the Kurdish Defense Units (YPG), the regime forces and members of the Popular Committee militia from the towns of Nebel and al-Zahra’ in the area between Nebel (mainly Shi’a) and the town of al-Ziyara (Kurdish). Regime forces bombarded the town of al-Ziyara, killing a 10-year-old child and injuring his mother and 2 brothers. Then clashes began as fighters from Nebel and al-Zahra headed north towards the Mengh military airport and their own towns. Clashes also occurred on the western side of al-Zahra, between the Popular Committee and opposition fighters from Mayer and Bayanoun (Sunni).

The opposition overran a military battalion near the Mengh military airport following clashes over the previous night, both regime troops and opposition suffered casualties and clashes occurred near the airport.

The Syrian air force bombarded the town of Tel Rif’at.

Footage of the overrun battalion:

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian regular forces bombarded areas of Jobar and there were injuries. Violent clashes broke out between regular forces and opposition fighters at the entrance to the Asali neighborhood and near 30th street in al-Yarmouk with losses on both sides. The Syrian military shelled Yarmouk camp today and two mosques there. Regular forces carried out a series of arbitrary arrests and raids in al-Jusr al-Abyad. Regular forces shelled the neighborhood of al-Tadamun and al-Qadam with rocket launchers and mortar shells. Several mortar shells fell on the al-Ghasoula area which led to casualties. Clashes took place in the outskirts of al-Abada and al-Ateiba, and regular forces bombarded these areas.

The opposition opened fire on a bus in Barzeh yesterday which killed 7 civilians, including a child and a woman. The bus was from the Ish al-Warwar, a largely Alawi area.

Fierce fighting by FSA in the Damascus suburbs led to at least 100 regime forces killed on Sunday.

Regime forces and loyalist militias stormed Jdaeidet Artouz Al Fadl and the surrounding area. About 566 bodies of people executed over the last 5 days of fighting were found. Many were summarily executed. The militia fighters were celebrating in the area afterwards.

Families waited outside the Palace of Justice for the release of prisoners on Sunday. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8FJuuv92ok&feature=youtu.be

Assad loyalists (identified on one site as republican guards) torture to death two civilians in al-Tal in the Damascus suburbs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYkv1MriNPw

On Saturday a sniper killed Muhammad Khaled Allawi of Deir az-Zur in Damascus.

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Katiba and the towns of al-Mleiha al-Sharqiya, Da’el and Tsil.

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=01548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The Jabha al-Nusra has destroyed 30 homes of armed villagers in al-Mesreb including the house of the mukhtar. Clashes occurred in this village and 20 Nusra fighters were killed (6 were from Saudi Arabia and Tunisia) and 17 villagers were killed. al-Nusra has also taken 13 captives.

Sunday saw the 312th day of the Assad regime’s military campaign to destroy the city of Deir az-Zur. Clashes were fought between the FSA and regime forces in Al-Ummal and Al-Haweeqa. The Syrian military shelled Hamidiya and Al-Matar Al-Qadim neighborhoods using rocket launchers and mortars.

FSA targeting the artillery stationed on the mountain


Killed on Sunday: Muhammad Al-Ahmad in clashes in Ar-Rassafa neighborhood

Mehiar Al-Bad’e and Abdullah Omar al-Hajji in the shelling of Hamidiyya


Malek Abdulhamid Al-Nawwarah in the shelling of Sheikh Yaseen

5- Majed Salih Al-Hamran; originally from Mou Hassan city; killed in the J’daidat Al-Fadhel massacre yesterday.

Killed on Saturday: Amneh Hassan Al-H’lal; a woman in regime shelling of the village of Khraiteh village and Iyad Hassan Al-H’lal; a young boy, http://youtu.be/J_XnZ5FN4kQ also Ahmad Hassan Al-H’lal; a young boy; Maji dah Hassan Al-H’lal; a young girl, Ayat Hassan Al-H’lal; a young girl.

The Syrian regime forces shelled al-Hamidiyya, al-Rushdiyya, al-Ummal and al-Rasafa.

Killed in clashes in al-Sina’a in the city of Deir az-Zur was Mohammad Subhi Al-Asker an FSA member from Al-Bou Lail.

Lewa’a Al-Ahmad an FSA member originally from Damascus was killed in clashes in al-Rassafa.

Hassan Al-Mohammad Al-Hamid Al-Ali, an FSA member from al-Quria killed in clashes in Deir Ezzor.

Hassoun J’naid, Omar Jnaid and Maha Jnaid were all killed in the bombing of Hatlah.

A bus was shelled on the Hassakeh-Damascus highway killing the bus driver and a passenger (not identified as of Sunday)

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The role of Hizbullah in Homs. http://www.romandie.com/news/n/_Syrie_le_role_du_Hezbollah_a_Homs_une_declaration_de_guerre_94220420131916.asp

The Syrian military shelled areas of al-Rastan destroying homes and causing injuries. Regular forces resumed their bombardment of al-Hula.

On Sunday, the occupied area of Homs (city) reported y:
The entrances to al-Ensha’at are closed off by prefabricated walls. Land lines, water and DSL Internet have been cut off/out of service for four days. Assad’s forces stationed in the Al Gardenia tower were shelling that area and no water there for three days.
Syrian Red Crescent’s trucks were filling the water reservoirs of the refugees centers and for residents. One entrance to al-Wa’er has opened near the pro-regime al-Mazra’ah village on the western side of Homs.

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military killed a man and a woman in the bombarding of the town of Binnish; the shelling came fromthe village of al-Fou’a. The Syrian military also bombarded the town of Jarjanaz and the city of Ma’arat al-Nu’man.

The Syrian regime shot a rocket at a school in the town of al-Maghara which killed 5 civilians, including children. The regime forces also bombarded the towns of Kafrouma, Kansafra and Kafarlata.

Latakia province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=ghv_UOaOOMGW0QH88YDYDw&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

The towns of al-Khadra, al-Kabir, Salma and al-Rihaniya were bombarded by regime forces on Saturday.

International:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Arab nations to stop supplying arms to either side in the Syrian conflict but, Nabil el-Araby, the Arab League chief said it’s impossible to halt the flow of weapons at this time “If there is a political settlement or the beginning of a political settlement it could happen, el-Araby said, “but at this point I don’t think it’s possible because the government is getting arms from certain parties, so if the other side gets some arms from certain parties, I think you can get some form of a balance there.” http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130422/arab-league-rejects-ban-call-end-syria-arms-supplies
Le Figaro reported that Jordan has opened up two corridors in its air space so that Israel can use drones to monitor the Syrian conflict. http://rt.com/news/allows-israeli-drones-airspace-192/

Fifty Lebanese political leaders including Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah made a surprise visit to Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Sunday. The group included pro-Assad politicians of all sects. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2013/Apr-22/214584-lebanese-figures-make-surprisevisit-to-assad.ashx#axzz2RF0VvRgk

Hazem al-Amin, an al-Hayat journalist criticizes Hizbullah’s military support of the Assad regime and effort to claim that it is protecting religious sites and defending the “resistance.” Al-Amin accuses Hizbullah of inventing a new Shiism in Lebanon. http://english.alarabiya.net/view-renderer?mgnlUuid=e6b93e93-adf0-40e3-ac58-56aa9c09364b

The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry announced following a Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul that the US will double its “non-lethal” aid to Syria (at 250 million dollars). The Syrian state news condemned the U.S.’s involvement, saying it is pouring oil on the fire.
http://www.euronews.com/2013/04/21/us-doubles-non-lethal-aid-to-syria-rebels/

An Illinois teenager, Abdalla Ahmad Tounisi was arrested en route to Turkey where he planned to join opposition forces. But he had been recruited by an FBI agent. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fbi-ill-man-planned-join-syrian-extremists
Also see: http://french.moqawama.org/essaydetails.php?eid=9220&cid=287#.UXP2Q4L4ucE.facebook

And just to remind you that a few of Syria’s historical and archaeological treasures are: the remains of Palmyra (Tadmur), and the citadel of Ibn Maan, the early Bronze Age site of Ebla, the Citadel of Aleppo constructed by Salah al-Din al-Ayubi and the khans, madaris, suqs and Great Mosque of Aleppo, the theater and ruined town at Bosra (also site of the Mabrak an-Nabi where the Prophet Muhammad’s camel kneeled) the Canaanite city of Ugarit at Ras Shamra, Douro-Europas, the Greek colony on the Euphrates near Salhiye, Tal Faras and Tal Muhammad Diab in Hassake, Tal Brak, the Bronze Age Atchana, Ain Dara, sites at Qanawat, Shahba, and Suwaida, the Ummayad mosque, the citadel, suqs and other sites in the Old City in Damascus such as the Street called Straight, the Azm palace and the Tekiyye mosque complex in Damascus the chapel of St. Sergius in Ma`lula, the Hijaz railway station, the Crusader castle, Krak de Chevaliers, Salah al-Din’s castle built on the Saone fortress, Jaabar Castle, the Great Mosque an-Nuri, the mosque of Khalid ibn al-Walid and many churches and older buildings in Homs, and the citadel, Roman era water-wheels and khans of Hama.

Syria Update, April 14 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

15 Apr

Syria Update, April 14, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: More than 130 killed including 33 children.

Saturday’s death toll: 160 killed including 65 civilians.

What might the United States do in Syria to hasten Assad’s departure?
http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/11/u-s-updates-military-options-for-syria/

An anti-regime demonstration today in Damascus

The Syrian government dismissed claims regarding chemical weapons use issued in the UK (see below) saying that if they had not consented to a soil sample, then the results have no validity. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/04/15/Syria-dismisses-unfounded-British-report-on-chemical-weapons.html

In areas seized from Assad, opposition groups disagree on the legal authority to be adopted – Islamic, pseudo-traditional or modern and civil-based. http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/11/a-tale-of-two-courts/

UK’s Ministry of Defense says some kind of chemical weapons were used in Syria in December (as the opposition has claimed). http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article3738391.ece

Italian journalists seized in Syria were released. Yesterday.
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/13/world/syria-italian-journalists-freed/index.html?iref=allsearch

Refugees and Relief:

Syrian refugees in Dohuk, Iraq.

Aleppo province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A car bomb attack on an intelligence center in al-Furqan near Nadi al-Dhabbat killed two and wounded 18, including 3 from al-Fada’iya’s team, Shadi Helw, the Aleppo correspondent, and two cameramen, Yahya Moussali and Ahmed Suleiman – Moussail was badly hurt and there were clashes at a nearby checkpoint.

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

One report says that 10 children were killed in al-Qaboun (another says 5 civilians, including 2 children) by aerial bombardment. The Syrian air force carried out air raids on the edges of the Jobar neighborhood.

Syrian military shelling on Jaraman killed 4 civilians and injured 20. The Syrian military shelled areas of Beit Sahm. Syrian government forces retreated from the town of Hafir al-Foqa in al-Qalamoun after they had previously stormed it some days ago, and there were clashes there with the opposition. The Syrian military shelled al-Thiyabiya and al-Ghouta al-Sharqiya with rocket launchers. Syrian helicopters and airplanes bombarded the town of al-Nashabiya town and the agricultural areas around Douma. Five men and 1 opposition fighter were killed by clashes with regular forces in the A’rbin town. Shelling on Hazrma killed one man. Four men from Zakiya town were tortured to death in government prisons.

Opposition fighters were clashing with regular forces in several areas of Daraya and regular forces shelled Harasta, Zamalka and al-Arqoub and carried out air raids on the village of Ghazal.
Warplanes bombarded the Sbeina and the Syrian military shelled the town of Babila.

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military conducted air raids on Kherbet Ghazala. Regular forces bombarded the al-Qusour neighborhood, and shot to death a man from Tsil.

The Syrian military shot a man in al-Sheikh Muskin and they resumed the shelling
Clashes occurred between opposition and regular forces in al-Katiba and the Syrian air force carried out air raids on the town of A’lma.

The Syrian military destroyed the minaret of the historic al-`Umari mosque in the city of Dar`a on Saturday. The mosque dates back to the 7th century as it was built by Omar bin al-Khattab and had been targeted for several days. At the outset of the Syrian revolution, this mosque was where the first martyrs fell and demonstrations issued from it. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/04/14/Historic-mosque-in-Daraa-destroyed-in-Syrian-army-shelling-.html

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Clashes took place between opposition and regime forces in the al-Hweiqa and al-Jbeila, along with regime bombardment on the al-Hweiqa in the city of Deir az-Zur.

Deir az-Zur in ruins: http://www.liberation.fr/monde/2013/04/13/syrie-deir-ezzor-champ-de-ruines_895742#s1

On Saturday, Islamists, including members of al-Nusra Front denouncing civil and democratic state. They announce that only an Islamic state (caliphate) and flag will be created once they enter Damascus.

Hassake province
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=AlHasakah+Governorate,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The regime forces carried out an air strike that killed at least 16 people in a majority Kurdish village of Haddad (which lies approximately 20 kilometers south of Qahtaniyya and 60 km north of Qamishli) today including 3 children and 2 women. (16 according to SOHR, 11 according to Reuters) http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/14/uk-syria-crisis-raid-idUKBRE93D0DW20130414
Syrian regime aircraft carried out several air raids on Umm Keif located on the Ras al-`Ain road. The Syrian military resumed its shelling of the town of Tal Hamees.

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The al-Khaldiya neighborhood of Homs was bombarded by regular forces with rocket launchers,

The opposition clashed with Hizbullah forces in Qusayr.

Syrian regular forces resumed the shelling of the city of al-Rastan. Clashes are took place between opposition fighters and regular forces supported by militants from the popular committees in several villages of al-Qseir.

Destruction in Homs

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Syrian troops broke through a lengthy opposition siege on two key military bases – Wadi ad-Dayf and Hamdiya killing at least 21 opposition fighters. The attack by the Syrian military focused on the village of Babulin and the residents of Babulin were shouting for the opposition to help them. Six cars with ammunition came from Sahyan to Hamidiyya following this breakthrough as regime forces delivered rmore reinforcements.

The regime forces bombarded the towns of Mer’yan, al-Tah and Kherbet Amouda. Violent clashes took place at the Zlito and A’in al-Sabil checkpoints resulting in casualities.

Clashes took place between opposition and regular forces on the outskirts of Baboulin village, along with helicopters hovering over the area. Regular forces bombarded the village of al-Janoudiya in the countryside of Jusr al-Shughour. Opposition fighters blew up a bridge on the Damascus-Ariha international road.

The Syrian military carried out an air raid on the outskirts of the city of Idlib.

Latakia province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=ghv_UOaOOMGW0QH88YDYDw&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

The Syrian regime forces bombarded the Rabi`a area and the Salma summer resort.

Raqqa province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Syrian regime forces shelled the city of al-Raqqa.

The airforce executed several air raids near the 17th division resulting in injuries.

Shelling by the Syrian regime forces killed four children in the village of Hmeira al-Bweitiyya.

International:

Two were killed and four injured in the Lebanese border town of Qasr in the Hermel area when artillery shelling from Syria breached the border.
Around the same town, Hizbullah fighters (or Hizbullah-based fighters) were patrolling: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/lebanese-shiite-fighters-backed-by-hezbollah-fighting-inside-syria-near-border/2013/04/14/58b4e360-a53e-11e2-9e1c-bb0fb0c2edd9_story.html

Lakhdar Brahimi may step down as UN-Arab League envoy on Syria. http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/brahimi-may-quit-as-unarab-league-envoy-on-syria/article4614425.ece

Syria Update, April 10, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

11 Apr

Syria Update, April 10 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: More than 150 killed today, including 48 civilians.

Tuesday’s early death toll: More than 140, including 32 civilians.

Here a leader of the al-Nusra Front, Abu Muhammad al-Julani gives allegiance to al-Qa’ida:

Indiscriminate air attacks by the Syrian government on Syrian civilians: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/04/10/death-skies

What and who is the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights?
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/world/middleeast/the-man-behind-the-casualty-figures-in-syria.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Pro-Assad military killing a boy:

Refugees and Relief:

A joint Emirati-Jordanian refugee camp was to open today: http://www.humanityvoice.net/news_details.php?id=9471

At Mrajed al-Fhood (and opened), a small facility compared to the Zaatari camp.
http://news.yahoo.com/second-camp-syrian-refugees-opens-jordan-111343324.html

Aleppo province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The use of curtains and awnings in neighborhoods to foil the efforts of snipers.
http://lightbox.time.com/2013/04/08/the-veils-of-aleppo-photographs-by-franco-pagetti/#1

Rockets fell on the Khaldiya and Jam’iyat al-Zahra’ neighborhoods, and al-Qasr al-Baladi. Sporadic clashes took place between regime and rebel forces in the Sheikh Sa’id neighborhood.

An opposition center near al-Ashrafiyya, headed by Khalid Hayyani has been torturing its captives, both Arabs and Kurds. His battalion has allegedly been taking over the property of refugees fleeing Sheikh Maqsoud, and some have complained of being forced to pay protection money.

Mortar shells fell on al-Sukari wounding several civilians.

Clashes continued today between opposition fighters and regular forces in several areas of al-Kandi hospital and the land around it.

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

In Damascus, the Syrian military bombarded Mukhayam al-Yarmuk and Qadam. Violent clashes between the oppositionand regime forces occurred in the Jobar neighbourhood at the A’basiyeen side. Clashes took place in Tadamun neighbourhood.

Clashes took place on the outskirts of al-Mleiha and near al-Sbeina town with losses by regular forces. A sniper shot a man on the road to al-Mleiha. The Syrian military bombarded al-Balad, Beit Sahem, Hjeira al-Bhariya, al-Hseiniyya, al-Thiyabiya, and Yelda. Fighter airplanes carried out air raids on areas of al-Ghouta al-Sharqiya causing injuries and property damage. Helicopters bombarded the al-A’bada Violent clashes took place in al-A’bada and artillery bombardment. The Syrian military bombarded the western areas of Daraya and al-Zabadani city using rocket launchers. Regime bombardment of Ma’damiyyat al-Sham killed a child.

Regime forces shelled al-Zabadani and Zamalka at midnight Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

More than 50 persons were killed in Sanamein: Shelling and clashes killed 26 civilians (including 5 women and 3 unidentified persons) Sanamein and Ghabagheb. Also 16 opposition fighters and 9 regular soldiers were killed there. Reports said that three soldiers were killed when they tried to defect. The fighting occurred after regime forces’ military reinforcements arrived in an effort to storm the town and they carried out detentions, capturing residents.

“Anees Muhamed Jamus”, the leader of the Saqr Qurish Battalion, died of his wounds following an ambush by regime forces on the Da’el Tafas road. The Syrian regime forces bombarded the towns of Da’el, Kafarshams, and Um al-Mayathin overnight Tuesday.

Regime forces also bombarded the town of al-Nemer and went on a raid and arrest campaign in the al-Qusoor neighbourhood of Der’a.

Regular forces killed a man from A’mouriya town when they targeted his car.

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

In the city of Deir az-Zur, the Syrian military bombarded al-Sheikh Yasin neighborhood and carried out a series of raids and arbitrary arrests in the Deir al-A’tiq neighborhood. Clashes took place, between opposition fighters and regime forces, in the Jbeila neighborhood late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Here is a video of some of the destruction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZd2JzOr_O0

Unknown gunmen shot a bus near Kabakeb between Deir az-Zur and Palmyra killing 2 civilians from the al-Qameshli and injuring 5 civilian passengers.

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

A defected lieutenant turned opposition l commander, was killed in clashes with regular forces near the Tal `Uthman military base.

The opposition here shelling Hama’s military airport.
https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/rebels-shelling-hama-military-airport

Violent clashes occurred in the neighbourhoods of al-Arb`in, al-Qusur, Tareeq Halab, and al-Hamidiya of Hama city late Tuesday into early Wednesday resulting in the deaths of 4 oppostion fighters. Clashes took place around several military checkpoints near Suran and the town was shelled.

Hassaka province
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=AlHasakah+Governorate,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Fighters of the Kurdish defense units (YPG) took control of the al-Nasra neighbourhood of the city of al-Hasakka after violent clashes yesterday which had resulted in the death of 1 YPG fighter and 5 pro-regime militants. YPG units control most of the Kurdish cities in al-Hassaka province.

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Homs today:

The neighbourhoods of al-Khaldiya and Homs al-Qadeema (old Homs) are under regime forces’ bombardment, along with several explosion sounds being heard, and no news were received about

Unknown gunmen killed ten Syrian bedouin civilians on the Tartous-Homs highway. The family of 10 (mother, father and 8 children) were found killed inside a tent by the road. Two opposition fighters were killed in clashes with regular forces in the Oum Sharshouh area. Regular Syrian forces shelled areas in al-Rastan. The Syrian air force carried out several air raids on the villages of Abel and al-Bweida al-Sharqiya in the southern part of the province. The air force also carried out air raids on Talibisa resulting in the death of a child and injuries.

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

An explosion was heard on the outskirts of Idlib city, by the Iskan (public housing) area, initial reports said that it was a car bomb.

International:

The United Nations and Syria are at an impasse over a probe into the use of chemical weapons which Syria actually requested. Syria, however wants the UN only to investigate an incident last month in Aleppo. But there have been 3 alleged chemical attacks – Aleppo, Damascus in March and Homs in December. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/11/uk-syria-crisis-chemical-un-idUKBRE93919620130411

The Obama administration will be providing more aid to the Syrian opposition including armor and night vision goggles. http://www.newser.com/article/da5imbr03/us-expected-to-increase-non-lethal-aid-to-syrian-rebels-including-armor-night-vision-goggles.html

The Friends of Syria will meet next week in Istanbul and US Secretary of State John Kerry will attend a core group meeting on April 20, 2013 according to a senior US State Department official who spoke today.

John Kerry and other G8 foreign ministers held talks with members of the Syrian National Coalition, including Ghassan Hitto, the opposition prime minister on Wednesday while attending a two-day ministerial meeting in London. Hitto’s mission in London was to ask for help in establishing a no-fly zone.

And as reported in Germany: http://www.dw.de/syrian-opposition-appeals-for-arms-at-g8-meeting/a-16736568

The Syrian regime apparently fabricated documents to spread a story that Saudi Arabia has sent al-Qai’da prisoners to go fight in Syria. http://www.arabnews.com/news/447738
On Jordan’s position vis-à-vis Syria – at first, somewhat neutral and now with rising numbers of refugees, less so. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2013/04/10/Jordan-ready-to-deal-with-Damascus-retribution-.html
A Syrian jet dropped five shells on the outskirts of Sarjal Ajram to the northeast of Arsaal, in Lebanon today.

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%


Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 


Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
 

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

Syria Update, April 6, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

7 Apr

Syria Update, April 6, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: More than 120 killed today including 54 civilians (and including 15 children).

The Syrian revolutionary forces in the southern part of the country are acquiring MANPADS according to Brown Moses (the British blogger) who suggests this area will become the next Aleppo. http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/early-signs-of-aleppo-isation-of.html

The Syrian regime is using rape to terrorize, injure and demoralize Syrian women — an instrument of war byhttp://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/04/06/syrian_women_who_fled_to_jordan_tell_of_horrific_rapes_back_home.html

A new campaign for prisoners of Bashar al-Assad: Behind Bars But Free
https://www.facebook.com/BehindBarsButFree

Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to two Turkish journalists posting it on his Facebook page. He was first asked to confirm that he is alive and in Syria and then decried the Arab League. He then warned that “”The whole world knows that if Syria is partitioned, or if terrorist forces take control of the country, there will be direct contagion of the surrounding countries,” promising a domino effect of instability. http://uneditedpolitics.com/syrian-president-bashar-al-assad-full-interview-on-turkish-tv-4513/

Four Italian journalists were kidnapped in northern Syria near the border:
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/04/06/Four-Italian-journalists-abducted-in-north-Syria-by-rebel-group-.html

Here is the Free Syrian Army’s statement to the Muslim Brotherhood of 31 March 2013 in case you weren’t aware of it. https://www.facebook.com/notes/hassan-i-hassan/fsa-statement-to-syrias-muslim-brotherhood/10151402734104092 also see
http://www.alarabiya.net/ar/arab-and-world/syria/2013/03/31/قيادة-الجيش-الحر-تتهم-الإخوان-المسلمين-بتعطيل-الثورة-.html
and
http://www.all4syria.info/Archive/76815
The above were published primarily in media outlets which are ambivalent or hostile to the opposition and are included here just to provide a fuller picture.

Refugees and Relief:
UNICEF said yesterday that it will soon run out of funds for Syrian refugees and projects that their numbers will soon rise to 1.2 million in Jordan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pz3t5AfXyNI

Syria’s Kurds are divided into different factions. Certain factions are cooperating with or, indeed, part of the Syrian opposition. This article considers what they may gain or lose in the Syrian conflict. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/syria-live/syrias-kurds-deeply-divided-may-determine-the-wars-outcome/article10431937/

Aleppo province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

15 civilians (9 children, 3 women, 3 men) were killed by the Syrian air force’s bombardment of Sheikh Maqsoud, a largely Kurdish neighborhood. Later in the day, five Syrian government troops were killed during a YPG attack on the regime checkpoint by the southern entrance to the Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood. YPG forces had earlier clashed with regime forces in the area.
Violent clashes also took place in the Ashrafiya, Bustan al-Qasr, Layramoun and Karm al-Jabal neighbourhoods with losses on both sides. Clashes took place by the Kweiris military airport, reports of losses on both sides.

Getting across the street in Bustan al-Qasr

The Nusra Front and regime forces engaged in clashes al-Azza village. The regime forces are trying to take over this village to break the siege on the Aleppo airport. Regime forces bombarded al-Sfeira city and parts of the town of Hayyan, no reports of casualties.

The FSA shells regime stations yesterday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJWWqohVtG4&feature=youtu.be

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Clashes resumed near the Jobar neighborhood close to al-Abbasiyin, and rockets fell on the area. The regime forces bombarded the Yarmouk camp where there were reports of injuries, including children. 1 man was killed by the rockets launched into the Kafarsouseh neighborhood. The regime shelling of al-Asali killed one man.
The opposition launched several mortar shells into central Damascus, targeting government and security buildings which are in populated civilian areas. A mortar fell on the Tishreen sports field in the Baramka area. Mortars fell near the al-Thawra newspaper building by the Kafarsousa roundabout and around Panorama on the Harasta road. The Syrian regime bombarded theMadniya and Bour Sa’id areas of the Qadam neighborhood and also bombarded Hajar al-Aswad, killing one man.
Violent clashes took place by the southern ring road by the city of Zamalka, with losses on both sides and Zamalka was heavily shelled. The Syrian air force shelled the outskirts of Yabrud 3 civilians, including a woman, were killed by the bombardment on al-Eteiba, and clashes took place. The town of Kafarbatna was also bombarded.
Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Syrian rebels opposition captured the Umm al-Mayathin military checkpoint in Daraa province near the Jordanian border.

The Syrian military bombarded the town of Kaheel. Intermittant clashes took place in the al-Karak neighbourhood of Dar`a. 1 man from the town of Tafas was tortured to death after the regime forces detained him for several days. 3 opposition fighters from this province were killed in clashes today.

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The Syrian regime continued its military campaign on Deir al-Zur yesterday for the 295th consecutive day.
Shelling by mortars and rockets launchers targeted Alhaweeqa, Al-Jbeileh and Hamidiya neighborhoods. MiG fighter jets flew over the city. Violent clashes took place between FSA and the regime forces in Al-Jbeileh. Regime forces launched a campaign of raids in Villat Al-Baladiyeh and Al-Qussour neighborhoods.

Despite the shelling people carried out protest in support of the free Syrian people all around the country.

Protest in the city of Deir al-Zur

Protest in Mayadin city

Several other protests focused on the poor treatment of Syrian refugees outside of Syria.

Fatima Al-Ali Al-Hajer, age 52 from Mou Hassan city died yesterday as a result of the shelling of Hamidiya on 4/4/13 Deir Ezzor city on April 4, 2013; First Lieutenant Sulaiman, vice commander of Muhammad Al-Baqr brigade; originally from Marratt, died on 4/4/13 due to an injury he sustained during the storming of brigade 113.
Maryam Khalaf Al-Abdullah; originally from Mayadin was killed by regime forces who targeted a bus coming from Damascus to Deir al-Zur on April 5, 2013. In the same incident, Abeer Jamal Salih Al-Sulaiman; originally from Mayadin was killed and also Khaldoun Jamal Salih Al-Sulaiman; and Ahmad Al-M’haid, originally from Mayadin.

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Regime forces bombarded the Tariq Halab neighborhood of Hama, killing one person and causing injuries and clashes took place there since morning with losses on both sides. A mortar rocket fell on the Sawa’eq neighborhood.

The Syrian air force shelled eastern Jabal Kafra’ in the southern part of the province. Syrian regular forces fired on the town of Bseirin, from checkpoints in the neighboring villages resulting in casualties.

Hassake province
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=AlHasakah+Governorate,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian air force bombarded the town of Tal Hamis, killing a woman and a young man There are reports of further casualties (children).

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The Syrian military bombarded the Maramla and al-Mashjar al-Junubi areas of Talbisa, and the town of al-Ghento. An opposition fighter from the al-Qusoor neighborhood was killed in clashes in the countryside of Homs. Syrian regular forces shelled the Khaldiya, Jourat al-Shayyah, and Old neighborhoods of Homs.

The Syrian air force bombarded the villages around the city of al-Qseir are airforce bombardment; 1 man was killed by the bombardment on the village of al-Hamidiya.

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Multiple rocket launchers hit the towns of Binnish and Ma’artharma was bombarded, causing injuries and property damage. The opposition bombarded the al-Nimr military checkpoint by the city of Khan Sheikhoun; deaths of Syrian regular troops were reported and a tank was damaged. The opposition also attacked the Khazanat Sharqi checkpoint in Khan Sheikhoun with losses on the Syrian military side. Military helicopters bombarded the town of Mar’and, causing injuries and damaging homes.

Latakia province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=ghv_UOaOOMGW0QH88YDYDw&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled the towns of al-Tafahiya, Ein al-Ashra, and al-Sukariyawere and several people were injured.

Umm Abed, a nurse who once worked in a military hospital treating wounded Syrian soldiers switched sides and now treats injured civilians, and opposition fighters. http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=6511&sid=1&subid=6#.UWC1ImCmK5I

Quneitra province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Quneitra+governorate+Google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x151eb4afcd3e069f:0xbcbbd63808a65623,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=Ch77ULCILuyP0QG67YDoDQ&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

12 captured MANPADS (by the revolutionary forces) in Quneitra http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VxEsGCuHt8&feature=youtu.be

Raqqa province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The air force bombarded the northern suburbs and neighborhoods of the city of Raqqah and the area around the 17th division.

International:

Lebanon’s new prime minister, Tammam Salam supports the Syrian revolution. http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/78528-pm-designate-tammam-salam-in-an-interview-on-lbci#43635

Hamas has denied that any of its members in its military wing in Syria have been training rebel fighters as was recently claimed by the The Times. Hamas says that although it stands with the Syrian people and supports their legitimate demands, that does not translate into participating in the armed conflict
Pro-revolution Lebanese attack Syrian fuel tankers:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/militants-in-lebanon-aim-new-attacks-at-syrian-fuel-supplies/2013/04/06/80ae30e6-9c7f-11e2-a941-a19bce7af755_story.html

Anti-Muslim Brotherhood sentiments from Lebanon: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Apr-04/212490-syrias-muslim-brotherhood-influential-organized-but-mistrusted.ashx#axzz2PiFkAysX

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davatoglu denied Bashar al-Assad’s claims that Turkey has made a pact with Israel against Damascus: https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/claims-of-turkey-israel-pact-against-syria-groundless-turkish-fm-says

The White House stated yesterday that President Obama would host regional leaders from Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates over the next few weeks to discuss the Syrian situation.
The US government also announced that President Obama will meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on April 26, and with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 16.

Russia has sharply criticized the United Nation’s probe into the use of chemical weapons in Syria, likening it to the prologue to war in Iraq. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/06/jwsyria-crisis-chemical-russia-idUSL2N0CT09X20130406